FOLLOW THE MONEY Various directors, Arrow Blu-Ray . While it may not exert the same tensile steel grip of such recent offerings as Trapped (or, for that matter, older entries in the Scandicrime genre such as The Bridge), Follow the Money has acquired a strong following, not least for its readiness to take on issues not generally found within the genre. Certainly the reliable cast of actors manages to invest the characters (some of whom, for plot reasons, remain rather too enigmatic) with a kinetic life. In recent months, the Arrow label Nordic Noir & Beyond has continued to grow from strength to strength as market leaders in releasing European TV shows to a wider audience. Following The Bridge III, River and most recently Trapped, their dominance in the Euro-crime sector continues to help finesse their reputation as a key distributor of International TV series within the UK. The latest jewel in their crown? The DVD & BLU-RAY release of the complete first season of this Danish financial crime thriller. The series has aired on BBC Four and comes from DR, the same production company which brought us Borgen, The Killing and The Legacy. The show presents a murky picture of one of Denmark’s leading energy companies, ‘Energreen’, and the endless layers of fraud and corruption which point towards insider trading and the death of an industrial employee. The corporate crime thriller stars the charismatic Nikolaj Lie Kaas as Energreen’s ruthless CEO, who has previously played Mathias Borch in The Killing, along with household names in Danish drama such as Thomas Bo Larsen as the series’ police detective, and up-and-coming talent including Natalie Madueño and Esben Smed Jensen. Production values and cinematography are top-drawer.
THE PROFESSIONALS various directors/Network Blu-Ray it’s interesting how history can judge popular crime thriller shows from the past. Some (such as Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner) rapidly acquire cult status and never lose it; others have to fall out of favour before they are rediscovered — sometimes for the wrong reasons (e.g. ‘camp’ status – as with The Professionals). But for whatever reasons, this spruced up new Blu-ray set of the fondly remembered thriller series gives viewers the chance to get beyond some of the derision the show originally accrued (mostly for Martin Shaw’s now-quaint footballer’s bubble perm, flat performances and almost ludicrously hard-boiled dialogue and action). But a lot of talented people were involved with the show, and it certainly moves like an express train – anchored by Gordon Jackson’s no-nonsense ‘M’ figure. The digital restoration has the show looking better than it ever did in its original transmissions. It may be a guilty pleasure, but it’s a fun one.
THE ZERO BOYS, Nico Mastorakis, director/Arrow DVD/Blu-Ray Nico Mastorakis’s The Zero Boys may be something of a dog’s dinner with its wildly eclectic mix of elements and jarring changes of tone, but admirers of the outré will find plenty to divert them here. From the man behind such eclectic offerings as the controversial Island of Death and the crass Oliver Reed thriller Hired to Kill, this genre-bending ’80s classic features gruesome sequences that anticipate the torture porn horrors of Hostel and Saw. This director approved edition come packed with bonus content including newly recorded interviews and with cast and filmmakers, alongside a commentary with star Kelli Maroney and the directors own inimitable take on the interview format, in which he interviews himself. For a group of young friends, a weekend of survival games in the wilderness turns into a genuine battle of life and death when one of their number turns up dead. Finding themselves hunted by a bloodthirsty band of maniacs intent on slaughtering them one-by-one, the self-styled "Zero Boys" must now play their war games for real. The film features an early score from Hans Zimmer (Batman V. Superman, The Dark Knight Trilogy), and The Zero Boys is lively enough.
BRIEF NOTICES Screenbound continues to unearth some neglected titles from the past, putting admirers of such fare in their debt. Recently this includes the solidly made Rock Hudson drama A GATHERING OF EAGLES, which features (along with the reliable Hudson) the underrated British/South African actress Mary Peach. Perhaps its strongest element today is the powerful score by the great Jerry Goldsmith. Also from Screenbound, A WOMAN’S VENGEANCE has Charles Boyer and Jessica Tandy in a piece notable for Cedric Hardwicke’s scene-stealing hypnotist and an early score by Miklos Rozsa. Eureka has reissued on Blu-Ray the Luchino Visconti classic ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS; any recommendation is unnecessary. Dazzler Media has made available a very handsome Blu-ray set of another Nordic Noir drama OCCUPIED (from an idea by the king of Scandinavian crime Jo Nesbo). Film scores seem to be a motif of this particular column, so let’s note Malcolm Arnold’s striking score for the David Lean classic THE SOUND BARRIER (Studios Canal) which is particularly impressive in this Blu-ray incarnation. And CSI SEASON 15 (Entertainment One) brings the long-running police procedural to a satisfying conclusion.